NBCU names Bonnie Hammer vice chairman in wake of Ron Meyer scandal

NBCUniversal continues to shake up the ranks.

The New York-based media giant promoted Bonnie Hammer, a 30-year company veteran to the role of vice chairman, a slot left empty following the recent departure of Ron Meyer.  Pearlena Igbokwe was promoted to Hammer’s role of chairman of Universal Studio Group, making her one of the highest ranking black executives at the company.

Meyer abruptly exited the company behind “Superstore” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” last month after he admitted to settling a lawsuit with Charlotte Kirk, an actress with whom he’d had a brief “consensual affair.” Meyer has also claimed he was being extorted by “parties” close to Kirk.

Meyer’s extortion claims prompted an FBI probe and spurred an investigation at NBCU over the use of company funds in exchange for sex and other misconduct.

Kirk was also linked to last year’s downfall of Warner Bros. chief Kevin Tsujihara, who was fired amid claims that he had promised the actress roles and auditions in exchange for sex. The Hollywood exec has denied any direct role in her being hiring.

Wednesday’s promotions will have NBCU’s Hammer, who recently led the company’s global television business, report to NBCU Chief Executive Officer Jeff Shell and serve as a “key advisor.”

While Meyer has mostly advised NBCU’s film business, Hammer will focus on its television business, an area where she spent her whole career, a source close to the company said. She will also advise on anti-discrimination and other “prosocial” initiatives, the company said.

During her career, Hammer oversaw the creation of Peacock, NBCU’s new streaming platform and she ran the company’s cable entertainment portfolio, which included USA Network, Syfy, Bravo, Oxygen and E! Entertainment, among other things.

Igbokwe, who most recently served as Universal TV president, will grab the reins from Hammer, overseeing Universal Television, Universal Content Productions  and NBCUniversal International Studios. During her time at NBCU, Igbokwe helped develop shows like “Russian Doll,” “The Good Place” and Dick Wolf’s “FBI” and “FBI: Most Wanted.” She will also report directly to Shell.

Shell praised both Hammer and Igbokwe, calling the television studios “key growth engines for the company.”

“This is an exciting time for our business, with demand for entertainment content at an all-time high and more distribution platforms available than ever before,” he added.

But behind the scenes, the Comcast-owned NBCU has been cutting costs due to economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. It is currently in the process of broad-scale layoffs that kicked off last month.